College of Education Newsletter

February 2020

Message from the Dean:

The number of high school students is expected to fall by 6.8% or 1 million students from 15.4 million in 2022 to 14.3 million in 2028 (Hechinger Report). In Arkansas, it is projected there will be a -20% + decrease in enrollment (UCA Resource Optimization Initiative). Additionally, high school graduates are projected to come from increasingly diverse backgrounds. What does this mean for universities? We will be competing for a smaller number of students and must increase our efforts to retain the students we enroll. We are going to need to support our diverse students by increasing efforts toward educational equity. Universities are going to need to build institutions designed for student success. This makes our College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program on the forefront of change. Services offered at universities by those persons who graduate from a CSPA program will have a profound impact on our ability to recruit, retain, support, advise, and graduate future college students. Fortunately, our program is up to the challenge. Our CSPA program makes sure it's graduates are prepared to engage and support a diverse student population by offering personalized services to meet student's needs, providing timely academic support, improving student advising and coaching, and preparing students for the rigor of college. So the next time you see Dr. Barclay or Dr. Bruick, thank them for their work. Our success partially depends on their field.

Want to learn more about success by design? Read this:

COE Receives Multiple Grants:

The COE was recently awarded an Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) STEM Computer Science Education grant. The ADE funded a STEM project several years ago. The balance from the grant was not expended completely. Dr. Vicki Groves-Scott (COE Dean) worked with the ADE to gain permission to spend the remaining $100,000. The ADE asked for the remaining money to go directly toward computer science education. Dr. Groves-Scott stated, "With the new Instructional Technology (ITEC) track in computer science education, we have been able to send faculty to conferences related to technology and computer science education and purchase equipment to support the new computer science education endorsement. We are extremely excited about the computer science endorsement and look forward to meeting the state's need for highly skilled computer science K-12 teachers."

Some of the technology items purchased with the grant include: iPad cart with 20 iPads and Apple Pencils for the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education, iPad cart with 20 iPads and Apple Pencils for the Technology Learning Center, iPad cart with 20 iPads and Apple Pencils for the department of Teaching and Learning, 3 Sphero Bolt Power Packs, 12 Lego Mindstorms EV3 Core Sets, 4 Cue Robots, 8 Sketch Kits for Dash and Cue Robots, Cubelets Inspired Inventors Pack, Hummingbird Bit Classroom Bundle, Lego WeDo ReadyGo 8 Student Pack, 4 Sphero RVR's, 4 Raspberry Pi Kits, 4 Raspberry Pi Touch Screens, Lego EV3 Space Challenge Sets, and several other technology tools.

The COE was also awarded a $75,000 two -year grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) to begin work to establish a UCA Normal School Center for Educational Equity (NSCEE). In preparation for the center, the college has initiated a partnership with the Disruptive Educational Equity Project (DEEP) to create UCA DEEP. Dr. Vicki Groves-Scott, Dean of the College of Education, is working with a leadership team to organize the DEEP training. Dr. Charlotte Green has been instrumental in creating connections with the Harvard DEEP leadership. Along with Dr. Groves-Scott and Dr. Green, Drs Michael Mills, Donna Wake, Candice Barnes, and Melissa Smith will become DEEP trainers.

UCA Child Study Center NAEYC Accreditation:

The Child Study Center (CSC) recently passed accreditation through The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The process began in September 2019 and allows the CSC to be accredited for five more years.

For the accreditation process, the CSC had to assemble a portfolio with evidence for 198 different NAEYC standards in areas such as teaching, curriculum, relationships, assessment, leadership, community engagement, and physical environment. They also had a site visit that included classroom observations and a building inspection. The CSC has been accredited through NAEYC for 10+ years.

The Child Study Center is an inclusive preschool that serves children ages 3-5. A big congratulations to the staff of the CSC: Whitney Burns (Director/Teacher), Regnia Hite (Teacher), and Gretchen Price (Teacher).

Impacting Tomorrow Summit:

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and UCA’s College of Education hosted the Impacting Tomorrow Summit on Fri., Feb. 21, 2020 from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm. Around 350 high school students who are interested in pursuing teaching as a career participated.

Students had the choice to participate in 3 Educators Rising competitions and general sessions. The competitions included: Lesson Planning, Educators Rising Moment, and Inside Our Schools. The winners of the competitions will be sponsored by DESE to attend the national Educators Rising conference in Washington, DC this summer.

The general sessions were presented by UCA professors, 2 UCA student panels, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, Arch Ford Education Cooperative, Wilbur Mills Education Cooperative, Arkansas River Education Cooperative, and Northwest Arkansas Cooperative. Students engaged in sessions that focused on passion for teaching, escape room, student engagement, trauma informed care, robotics, using apps to increase student engagement, engineering design, teacher dispositions, experiential learning, and using riddles, jokes, and poems to teach inferring.

Dr. Nykela Jackson organized the day. Thanks to everyone who helped with making this event a success.

Family S.T.E.A.M. Night at Anne Watson Elementary:

Ms. Ashton Hankins (TLC Director), Ms. Melissa Earls (TLC Technology Specialist), Dr. Helen Hu (Associate Professor in the department of Leadership Studies), and Ms. Allyson Ponder (UCA Elementary Education Student) represented the COE at the 1st annual Anne Watson Elementary Family S.T.E.A.M. night on February 25th.

Anne Watson Elementary students were presented with over 12 S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) stations to try out during the event. They also were taught about vortexes by staff from The Museum of Discovery. The COE hosted an Osmo station led by Ms. Hankins, a Sphero station led by Dr. Hu with assistance from her son Jimmy, and an Ozobot station led by Ms. Earls with assistance from Ms. Ponder.

Where Are They Now:

The COE Newsletter encourages you to share UCA COE alumni stories. "Where Are They Now" articles will highlight our alumni and their impact. Please share your story by going to

Ms. Ashley Hammett:

Since her graduation in 2009, Ashley has been working in the Greenbrier School District. She taught first grade for seven years at Wooster Elementary before accepting a position as the district dyslexia coordinator which she did for one year. Ashley then took on the position of Assistant Principal at Springhill Elementary as well as serving as dyslexia coordinator and was in that role for two years before taking over as principal. During this time, Ashley went back to school to earn her graduate certificate in dyslexia intervention and her masters in school leadership. She has also been able to complete the requirements to become a Certified Dyslexia Specialist and Certified Academic Language Practitioner.

Ashley said, "I am most proud of the work Greenbrier has done to ensure that our students are getting evidence based reading instruction. Springhill was recognized as a National Distinguished School for 2018 and was featured on a national platform with PBS and Education Week for our work in the area of serving our dyslexic population."

Ms. Wendy Meins-Reinhard:

Wendy is a 2006 graduate with a degree in Early Childhood Education and a 2010 graduate with a Master of Science in Education. She teaches 4th grade at Ellen Smith Elementary in Conway, AR and was recently named their teacher of the month.

Dr. Jeremy Owoh:

Dr. Jeremy S. Owoh is the Superintendent of Schools for the Pine Bluff School District. The Camden native has a BSE degree in English Education from the University of Central Arkansas, a master's degree in secondary education, an educational specialist degree in educational leadership, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Prior to being named PBSD Superintendent, Jeremy was the assistant commissioner for educator effectiveness and licensure at the Arkansas State Department of Education. Jeremy was the founding assistant superintendent for the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District at the time that the district was being carved out of the Pulaski County Special district.

Before serving as an assistant superintendent of curriculum/instruction and desegregation in the Jacksonville/North Pulaski district, Jeremy was principal at Little Rock's J.A. Fair High School for four years; Pulaski County Special's Fuller Middle School, and assistant principal at North Little Rock's Ridgeroad Middle school.

He started his teaching career as an English teacher at Little Rock's Parkview Magnet High School, where he worked from 2003 to 2008.

Ms. Julie Wallace:

Julie Wallace is a 2005 UCA graduate of our Early Childhood Education program. We asked Julie to share what she's been doing since she graduated and any projects of which she's particularly proud: "Wow! It’s been a whirlwind of a journey since I graduated from UCA in 2005. Since then I have obtained a Master’s Degree in Reading and an Ed.S degree. I served in the Greenbrier School District as a teacher and assistant principal before moving to the Quitman School District where I am currently the Principal and Director of Curriculum and Instruction. The work that I am particularly proud of is our with PLC Pilot Project funded by the ADE and Solution Tree. Our school is currently in Year 2 of Cohort 2. I have witnessed a vast change in our staff, students, and community because of this project. Our students and staff are better because of this grant. I look forward to experiencing growth and success in our future. The field of education has the power to transform lives for the better. I am grateful and blessed to be an educator. I love my job and touching lives on a daily basis. "

Ms. Courtney Williams:

Courtney is a 1999 graduate of our Special Education program. Since graduation, she has earned a Masters degree, became a National Board certified teacher in the area of Exceptional Needs, served as President and Awards chair for State organization Council for Exceptional children, served as a City of Conway Ambassador, and is a Conway Area Leadership graduate. After teaching Special Education for 14 years, Courtney opened Compass Academy, a non profit private K-12 school for students with special needs in Conway, AR. The first year they had 8 students and within 5 years time they have reached an enrollment of 71 and achieved their National Accreditation.


On January 28th, Dr. Jeff Whittingham (Professor in the department of Teaching and Learning) and Dr. Amy Thompson (Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) recruited for College of Education graduate programs at Harrison School District.
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Faculty News:

Dr. Jud Copeland:

Dr. Jud Copeland, Associate Professor in the department of Leadership Studies, recently had an article published in the Arkansas Association of Instructional Media's Winter Journal. You can check out Dr. Copeland's article on Digital Citizenship by going to (page 14).

Dr. Alicia Cotabish:

Dr. Alicia Cotabish, Associate Professor in the department of Teaching and Learning, recently had a book chapter published. Her chapter title is Tenacity and is in the new book "W.O.W. factor: 52 Thoughts from Thought Leaders." Dr. Cotabish stated, "The thing that excites me is to be included with such notable thought leaders." She added, "In summary, it is like "Chicken Soup for the Soul" for professionals."

You can learn more about the book by going to

Dr. Nancy P. Gallavan:

The Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) has announced that Nancy P. Gallavan, PhD, will receive the Duaine C. Lang Distinguished Mentoring Award at the ATE 2021 annual meeting scheduled to meet in Anaheim, CA. Sponsored by the ATE Duaine C. Lang Mentoring Fund, this award was established to honor ATE members who guide, support, and empower colleagues, classroom teachers, and candidates in ways aligned with the ATE vision and mission statements. The ATE vision and mission statements encourage members to promote advocacy, equity, leadership, and professionalism for teacher educators in all settings and to support quality education for all learners at all levels through both exemplary clinical practice and research.

Nancy P. Gallavan has been an active member of ATE since 1995. Nancy is dedicated to mentoring colleagues (in the CoE, at UCA, across the U.S, and especially in ATE) as well as classroom teachers, and candidates (teacher education and leadership doctoral) in their educational journeys. Her mentoring helps to advance their knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to teaching, learning, and schooling. Specifically, Nancy’s passion and purpose in teacher education resonate in promoting ethics, equity, and efficacy evident in teaching, scholarship, service, and collegiality. As a colleague wrote in her nomination, Nancy certainly models the words of Albert Einstein, “A life lived for others is the only life worth living.” Nancy has served as Association President, Board Member, Communications Committee Chair, Teacher Self-Efficacy Commission Chair, and Online Teaching and Learning Commission Chair. Additionally, Nancy served as the co-editor of the annual ATE Yearbook of Research for seven years. Nancy also has received three Presidential Service awards, the LaureATE Award, and the Distinguished Member award.

Dr. Odunola Oyeniyi:

Dr. Odunola Oyeniyi, Assistant Professor in the department of Leadership Studies, recently received a UCA College of Education Research and Scholarly Activities Award grant. The Research and Scholarly Activities Award is dedicated to supporting project implementation that benefit from additional funding.

Dr. Oyeniyi will use this award in support of her suicide prevention program among first-year college students on campus. She will focus on teaching the participants some self-harm coping techniques, building emergency contacts, improving social support, and offering motivational material. This tactic is designed to enable participants to stay mindful, remain positive, and to keep participants safe by drastically reducing the tendency of self-harm.The program started in January and will involve all first-year students from different departments. Dr. Oyeniyi stated, "By adding suicide preventon to a school's program, students are better able to handle and address suicidal thoughts or intentions. Prevention can save lives, especially those of first-year college students populations who are at higher risk."

Dr. Stefanie Sorbet:

Dr. Stefanie Sorbet, Assistant Professor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education, recently had a podcast broadcasted through Spotify and iTunes within the AERA special interest group "Service-Learning and Experiential Education." In the podcast, Dr. Sorbet discusses a service learning project specifically designed to assist and support children with challenging behaviors due to crisis situations.

You can listen to the podcast by going to

Staff News:

Ashton Hankins:

Congratulations to Ashton Hankins, TLC Director, for being named the UCA Employee of the Quarter for Q2. In her nomination letter Dr. Vicki Groves-Scott stated, "Ashton is clearly student and staff-centered in her approach to directing the Technology Learning Center. She is meticulous when working with faculty and students to ensure they have the technology skills needed to perform tasks and create interactive technology enhanced lessons and activities. She stays abreast of changes in technology and leads innovation for the College. She leads COE technology outreach activities like CubsCode and Hour of Code field trips for elementary students. Ashton is professional and eagerly takes on additional responsibilities when serving on committees or working in teams. She has an excellent good work ethic."

According to the Staff Senate employee of the quarter email, nominations are evaluated on outstanding job performance, time frame of the performance, and overall contribution to the University. Each winner receives recognition and prizes, including recognition at the Employee Service Awards (April, 2020) and a reserved parking spot.

Student News:

Michael Herren:

Michael Herren was recently named as one of 35 Arkansas educators to receive a $2,000 sponsorship from the Arkansas Department of Education. The sponsorship assists educators with expanding their knowledge of computer science and gives them the opportunity to network with other educators from around the world at the Computer Science Teachers Association conference, which will be held in Arlington, Virginia July 11–15, 2020.

Michael is currently enrolled in the Instructional Technology (ITEC) program at UCA. He teaches Robotics, Competition STEM, Engineering Technology/Cinematography at Washington Middle School in El Dorado.

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Students enrolled in EDUC 3322 (Diverse Learners in Inclusive Settings) visited Dunbar Middle School to meet teachers, work with AVID students, and tour the historic building. Many thanks to Alice Kunce at Dunbar for hosting their experience.
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On Tuesday, February 4th, Ms. Alicia Brown (Clinical Instructor in the department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education) had a presentation by Ms. Debbie Fleming and Ms. Debbie Byers of the State Department of Arkansas Co-Teaching Project during her Education Programming for Middle/Secondary Students with Mild Disabilities class. Ms. Fleming and Ms. Byers showed the students the co-teaching models and how successful this program has been across the state of Arkansas. They also shared data about how scores increased for students with disabilities who have been fully included in the regular classroom setting.

For more information about the Arkansas Co-Teaching Project please visit

COE Newsletter Archives:

Missed an issue? You can view past issues of the COE Newsletter by going to